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The statement by Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam today that the 43 students who disappeared in September could have been killed, burned and dumped in a river fails to address the government’s complicity in this tragedy, Amnesty International said today. 

The investigation into the enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings has been limited and incomplete, with officials failing to challenge the entrenched collusion between the state and the organised crime which underlies these grave violations of human rights, said Amnesty International today.

“Tragically, the enforced disappearance of these student teachers is just the latest in a long line of horrors to have befallen Guerrero state, and the rest of the country. The warning signs of corruption and violence have been there for all to see for years, and those that negligently ignored them are themselves complicit in this tragedy,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director of Amnesty International.

In the most comprehensive account to-date of the disappearance of the students, the Attorney General failed to recognize that this is a state crime and not an isolated incident. 

He also failed to mention the negligence and complicity of the state in investigating a series of allegations against the mayor of Iguala and the failure to hold to account the federal and local police involved in the killing and torture of other Ayotzinapa students in 2011. 

The mayor of Iguala, the main suspect in the enforced disappearance of the students, has long been suspected of corruption and serious crimes. In June 2013 a survivor of an attack on eight local activists, in which three people died, reported that the mayor had participated directly in the murders. The survivor provided a detailed account, which was given to a public notary due to fears over police collusion. The state prosecutor failed to investigate the claims.

Despite evidence implicating the mayor, the investigation was reportedly closed in May 2014. 

“If the allegations against Iguala’s mayor and the federal and local police had been investigated when other serious human rights violations occurred, it is more than likely that the terrible murders and enforced disappearances of the students would not have taken place,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

The students’ families have also said that they do not trust the information presented by the Attorney General until is backed up with scientific evidence by independent Argentinian forensic experts and the state acknowledges responsibility. 

President Peña Nieto’s actions have not lived up to the promises he made to the families of the disappeared students. His government failed to accept the international technical assistance offered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, in the middle of this deep human rights crisis, the President will depart on an international tour to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, showing his low interest to address the serious human rights situation in Mexico.

“The authorities must bring to justice all those working at state and federal level who are complicit in these grave human rights violations, as well as those who have neglected their duties in investigating these acts and addressing the long-standing human rights crisis,” concluded Erika Guevara Rosas.

Background

In the search for the missing students, 19 mass graves were found in and around Iguala. Some 74 people have been detained so far in a case that started when local police attacked student teachers on 26 September, killing six people and disappearing 43 students.